Sample distribution in peak mode isotachophoresis

Shimon Rubin, Ortal Schwartz, Moran Bercovici

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present an analytical study of peak mode isotachophoresis (ITP), and provide closed form solutions for sample distribution and electric field, as well as for leading-, trailing-, and counter-ion concentration profiles. Importantly, the solution we present is valid not only for the case of fully ionized species, but also for systems of weak electrolytes which better represent real buffer systems and for multivalent analytes such as proteins and DNA. The model reveals two major scales which govern the electric field and buffer distributions, and an additional length scale governing analyte distribution. Using well-controlled experiments, and numerical simulations, we verify and validate the model and highlight its keymerits as well as its limitations.We demonstrate the use of the model for determining the peak concentration of focused sample based on known buffer and analyte properties, and show it differs significantly from commonly used approximations based on the interface width alone. We further apply our model for studying reactions between multiple species having different effective mobilities yet co-focused at a single ITP interface. We find a closed form expression for an effective-on rate which depends on reactants distributions, and derive the conditions for optimizing such reactions. Interestingly, the model reveals that maximum reaction rate is not necessarily obtained when the concentration profiles of the reacting species perfectly overlap. In addition to the exact solutions, we derive throughout several closed form engineering approximations which are based on elementary functions and are simple to implement, yet maintain the interplay between the important scales. Both the exact and approximate solutions provide insight into sample focusing and can be used to design and optimize ITP-based assays.

Original languageEnglish
Article number012001
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number1
StatePublished - 13 Jan 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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